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2017 ANDE LATAM Catalyst Fund

Congratulations to the ANDE LatAm Catalyst Fund Winners!

In March of 2018, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and MetLife Foundation awarded a total of $183,000 across four grants as part of ANDE’s Catalyst Fund.

The goal of the ANDE Catalyst Fund is to increase the productivity and effectiveness of ANDE members, while creating tools and insights that can help the small and growing business (SGB) sector as a whole. With the grants, the four winners—ARTEMISIA, New Ventures, Village Capital, and World Vision Canada—have worked to increase access to financial services for low- and moderate-income Latin Americans.

An expert panel of judges selected the winners based on their alignment with the goals of the fund, clarity of the proposal, feasibility, capacity, and potential for broad and deep impact. Since then, the winners have completed their projects. View the video below about the Catalyst Fund and read below for the results of the winning projects:

The Catalyst Fund: ANDE & MetLife for Financial Inclusion from Cage Free on Vimeo.

1. ARTEMISIA (Brazil) developed and disseminated the Impact Thesis on Financial Services for the BoP in Brazil. This study analyzed the structural and individual challenges in financial inclusion for low-income Brazilians and identified opportunities for social enterprises to increase access to financial services in ways that are sustainable and far-reaching. One main takeaway is that while there has been an increase in the percentage of people with access to bank accounts, this has not converted into quality use of financial services. Over half of the low-income population has a bank account, but only 7% of those use it more than once per month. In addition, 80% of the low-income population have access to mobile technology, but a very small percentage of those users actually use mobile banking services: 9% just check their account’s balance, 5% pay bills, and 3% transfer money via mobile banking apps. Social enterprises must find a way to simplify the financial system’s complexity through technology and fully understand the populations they serve in order to create solutions that establish trust and empower users. This study effectively serves as a guide for entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, nonprofits, and policymakers that continue to work towards financial inclusion in Brazil and abroad.

Watch the video below to learn more about Banco Mare, a financial inclusion start-up supported by Artemisia.

Accelerating Inclusive Fintechs: Banco Mare, Brazil from Cage Free on Vimeo.


2. New Ventures (Mexico) launched VIWALA, a non-banking financial institution that finances the "missing middle" of SGBs in Mexico with demonstrable social or environmental impact. VIWALA has achieved great success in fundraising and has established a structure to scale. Within its first year, the startup has trained 15 impact SGBs, directly funded one SGB with a revenue-based loan, and approved two others for direct funding. The startup has also created a gender strategy and a monitoring and evaluation plan. Moving forward, VIWALA plans to streamline its operations so that it can begin to make improvements to the automatization of the due diligence and repayment processes. This will make the organization more effective in its work to fund promising social enterprises and help the social enterprises reduce their own costs and improve their financial acumen.

3. Village Capital provided support for six financial inclusion SGBs in Mexico and Latin America that had graduated from Village Capital programs. The initiative equipped these ventures with customized training, connections to investors, and human capital support to help the businesses grow and better serve their low- and moderate-income target populations. Based on feedback from the ventures, Village Capital identified the most valuable activities to be pitch presentations, self-assessment workshops, and sessions such as the Investor Forum that are valuable for entrepreneurs looking to expand internationally with support from a venture capital firm. Moving forward, Village Capital aims to better curate engagements with corporations and financial institutions to provide entrepreneurs with actionable items and not just informative sessions. With these newly gained insights, Village Capital will explore alternatives for future alumni support engagements and produce a new curriculum and content package for small businesses that are ready to scale.

Watch the video below to learn more about Mutuo Financiera, a financial inclusion startup supported by Village Capital:

Accelerating Inclusive Fintechs: Mutual Benefit, Mexico from Cage Free on Vimeo.

4. World Vision Canada developed and pilot-tested SimpliFi, a digital app that allows SGBs and their lending financial institutions to track financial transactions over time, improve data-driven decisions, decrease risks inherent in lending, and better monitor their businesses. The VisionFund Mexico team piloted the app with 30 SGB clients and 102 microfinance clients. The post-pilot survey indicated that 64% of survey respondents found the app to be useful in helping them to have greater control over their finances, while 22% of respondents indicated that they continued to use the app. World Vision Canada gained several key lessons from the pilot program, including the importance of ensuring technical stability and privacy to build trust and buy-in into the app, hiring app developers who have experience in the context of developing countries, and providing ongoing coaching and business development support to the clients. World Vision Canada and VisionFund Mexico are evaluating these learnings to determine the next best steps to take in moving forward with the app.

In most of the winners’ geographies, the World Bank reports that less than 51 percent of people have a bank account, 14 percent of the population has a formal savings account, and 11 percent have ever had access to credit from an authorized financial institution. Low-income populations are especially vulnerable to high transaction costs, which makes borrowing even more costly than the face value of the loan. The selected winners have changed that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How do you define Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs)?

ANDE defines SGBs as commercially viable businesses with five to 250 employees that have significant potential and ambition for growth. Typically, SGBs seek growth capital from $20,000 to $2 million. ANDE Catalyst Fund projects should create tools and insights that can not only help your organization try something new and/or do your work better, but help the SGB sector as a whole.

is this the same program I heard about that is supporting Fintech start-ups?

Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) manages a different Catalyst Fund, which provides capital in the form of grants and advisory services to early-stage inclusive fintech startups, while sharing industry insights from lessons learned about accelerating inclusive digital financial services. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co., and fiscally sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the fund also has the guidance of ANDE members, Accion, Omidyar Network, Gray Ghost Ventures; as well as that of Quona Capital. The fund launched in 2016 and will be active until end of 2018.  Find out more about Catalyst Fund.


The ANDE Catalyst Fund was launched in 2009 with $1,000,000 in seed funding from The Lemelson Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Shell Foundation. Since then, more than $2.5 million has been disbursed to 39 member organizations and the grant-making facility has been replenished with funds from Citi FoundationMasterCard Worldwide, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, and S&P Global.


Special thanks to this year's sponsor: